The Sikkim Legislative Assembly on Thursday passed the Wildlife (Protection) Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 in order to give freehand to villagers to protect their agricultural crops and livestock from wild animals. This bill was introduced by State Forest Minister Tshering Wangdi Lepcha in the Assembly.
As per this new bill, the villagers are empowered to drive away ‘any wild animal’ that enters into any part of the land or building of a person. However, the villager must also make sure that the intruding wild animal bears ‘the objective of destroying agriculture/horticulture produce or of killing the domestic cattle’. In that case, for driving the animals away, the villagers can use stick, weapons (other than firearms) or stone pelting on the wild animals to make sure that the animal goes out of the vicinity.
Further the bill also mentions that “…and if as a consequence of such chasing, the concerned wild animal is injured or killed, such incident of injury or death should be treated as an accident and no penal liability will accrue and the body or carcass of the wild animal shall be the property of the government.”
But there are a few limitations to be strictly followed by the public. Although the bill gives the public every right to drive away the wild animals that does not mean that one would chase the animals up to the forest. No one can enter into the forest land while chasing the wild animal away from their land.
MLAs Rup Narayan Chamling and Kunga Nima Lepcha, however, wanted to be clear about the jurisdiction involved while chasing away the wild animals along with a clarification on the weapons that can be used to drive them away.
The Forest minister, while replying to the queries made by Chamling and Lepcha, said that the amendment bill would go to Delhi where suggestions on necessary rectifications will be made.